Academic journal article et Cetera

Uncle Tungsten: Memoirs of a Chemical Boyhood

Academic journal article et Cetera

Uncle Tungsten: Memoirs of a Chemical Boyhood

Article excerpt

Oliver Sacks. Uncle Tungsten: Memoirs of a Chemical Boyhood. New York: Vintage, 2002. Oliver Sacks, a neurologist and the author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, grew up among relatives who esteemed science. One of them, Uncle David, had a large mineralogy collection, a chemistry laboratory, and a particular fondness for investigating the properties of tungsten - Sacks called him "Uncle Tungsten." he also had an "Uncle Tin," a "physics uncle," and a "botany aunt." During Sacks' adolescence, these unique individuals helped develop his strong and lasting interest in chemistry. An examination of that interest, and an amalgam of fascinating human stories (which is a trademark of Oliver Sacks' books), makes Uncle Tungsten a delightful read.

The author, as a twelve-year-old, had a particular affinity for the periodic table of the elements - "Seeing the table, 'getting it,' altered my life. I took to viewing it as often as I could. I copied it into my exercise book and carried it everywhere; I got to know it so well - visually and conceptually - that I could mentally trace its paths in every direction, going up a group, then turning right on a period, stopping, going down one, yet always knowing where I was. …

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